‘Local elections are as important’: Filipinos told as local candidates start campaign

March 28, 2022 - 1:08 PM
General elections
Undated file photo showing various election posters. (The STAR/Boy Santos)

Voters were encouraged to be as critical in the elections in their area as they are in the national polls following the start of the campaign period for those running in local elective posts.

The 45-day campaigning season for these aspirants started last Friday, with 845 of them reportedly running unopposed in their areas.

The Commission on Elections said that there are 18,023 positions at the local level. These are the following:

  • 253 seats for district representative in the Congress
  • 81 seats each for governor and vice governors
  • 782 members of Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board
  • 1,634 seats each for city or municipal mayors and vice mayors
  • 13,558 seats for city or municipal councilors

Out of the 845 aspirants running unopposed for the local elections, these are:

  • 39 congressional candidates
  • 9 governors
  • 11 vice governors
  • 45 provincial board members
  • 203 mayors
  • 254 vice mayors

Meanwhile, there are 284 city or municipal councilors who only need to get one vote to get elected.

Following the start of the local campaign period, some Filipinos reminded their fellow voters to be involved in the polls in their area as much as the national ones.

“I hope everyone is as engaged in local elections as they are in national elections. Local government elections are as important as national elections so consider putting more effort into understanding the candidates and issues surrounding your community,” a Twitter user said on the kickoff of the local elections.

“A lot of responsibilities have been devolved to local governments. With the Mandanas ruling which takes effect in the 2022 budget cycle, the budgets of local governments are also expected to increase substantially (if not immediately because of the pandemic, then eventually),” Leland Dela Cruz, another Twitter user, said on the same day.

The Mandanas ruling refers to the Supreme Court’s decision to increase the internal revenue allotment of local government units.

“Right now, health decentralization is probably the most important. But local governments have other functions too: agriculture, population management, livelihood programs, tourism, etc. They are even required by law to set aside a portion of their revenues for education,” Dela Cruz continued.

“Who decides how the LGU budget is spent? Just as with the national government, decisions are made by the local legislature (i.e. municipal/city council or provincial boards) which in turn are chaired by the vice-mayor/ vice-governor,” he added.

“So the names down (the) ballot (councilors/ board members) are people who decide on local government budgets and local ordinances. That’s why we have to pay attention to the local races too!” Dela Cruz continued.

He added that mayors are “the most accessible government official” for many Filipinos in localities.

“Mayors matter to many people more than national officials. So when the mayor says vote for a particular national candidate or Senate slate as listed in a sample ballot, some voters will follow,” he said.

“So do pay attention to the local races too and work with the local candidates supportive of your national candidate,” Dela Cruz added.

Participating in the process of selecting public officials who will run localities and the country itself is a form of reinforcing democracy in a society, according to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

“It is significant in that simply exercising your right of suffrage connects you to the great democratic tradition of individuals taking part in their own governance,” he said in an opinion column in June 2020.

“It is meaningful in the sense that it allows you to honor the memory of those who sacrificed much, even their very lives, so that Filipinos could enjoy the right of self-determination,” Jimenez added.

“By voting, you get the opportunity to put a government in place that will care for you, provide you opportunities for prosperity and happiness, and protect you the way you want. Voting does this because the candidates you vote for act as your representatives,” he further said before.

The national and local elections will be held on May 9, 2022.